Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT and the Health Services Board have said the ongoing strike by doctors is illegal and urged them to return to work immediately.
The doctors had before downing tools, petitioned Government to address a number of grievances that include the payment of locum allowances.
Government and the Health Services Board said doctors’ grievances have been addressed through the Health Services Negotiating Panel framework which guides conditions of service and other mutual issues between employer and employees.
In a joint statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Health Services Board said some of the issues raised by the doctors among them locum payments, motor vehicle scheme, availability of equipment and medicines at hospitals and freeze of vacant positions had been addressed.
“At an Extraordinary BNP meeting on 16 February 2018, the following issues were addressed among others: the need for ensuring continuity of health services through the issuance of a revised Locum policy Circular 1 of 2018 covering all health workers in January 2018 that should improve the management of locum and therefore ensure availability of staff at all times. Payment started reflecting on the February 2018 payroll,” reads the statement.
Government said it had allocated $10 million for transport costs for the health workers who are sometimes required to report for duty at odd hours.
“BNP agreed to a scheme to address the transport requirements for health workers. Following this agreement, Government recently allocated $10 million for the operationalisation of the scheme. This information was communicated to the ZHDA representatives at the Extraordinary BNP meeting of 15 February 2016,” reads the statement.
The Ministry of Health said Governments’ position was that doctors’ posts have never been frozen and are available for all doctors completing internship in 2018.
“Government is aware that 160 doctors will be completing their internship in 2018. Currently there are 236 vacancies for Government Medical officers and Hospital Medical officers nationwide,” reads the statement.
“At the BNP meeting of 13 February 2018, Government advised workers’ representatives of plans to unfreeze critical vacant posts of other health cadres.
Consultations are underway to identify the critical posts.
“Workers’ representatives have been requested to assist in the identification of such posts through BNP. These and other issues are under discussions within the framework of the BNP and there has been no declaration of a deadlock on any of those issue”.
Government said it had provided essential equipment and sundries through various channels such as the US$100 million Chinese loan facility for equipment support through the Global Fund.
It said other partners such as UNFPA, Japan International Cooperation Agency, USAID/CDC, and Health Development Fund continue to offer assistance to the health sector.
Last week, doctors at Mpilo Central Hospital handed a letter to the hospital’s clinical director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, addressed to the Minister of Health Dr David Parirenyatwa. The doctors said there was lack of urgency in addressing their issues.
“This serves as a notice that with effect from March 1 we will be unable to discharge our normal duties until such a time the ministry decides to prioritise our people’s health.
“Our locums remain unpaid since October 2017 and we remain severely understaffed.
“There are no essential drugs and fluids and patients are dying unnecessarily. There has been no written response from you to address this and no tangible efforts,” read the letter.
“Working hours remain ill-defined and at the whim of the admin and our allowances have not been graded as per regional standards, a concern we raised in our letter dated February 5.”
The doctors also said any timetables made without approval and consultation of the doctors’ association will not be adhered to. — @AuxiliaK